Stay-In: Riad Shambala (Marrakesh)

As always in Stay-In section we share locations, apartments and hotels where you can stay during your trip. Today Mariia Grozenkova tells about riads – an excellent option for staying and shooting in Morocco. We already shared with her love-story from Marrakech which happened in one of those places – Riad Shambala.

Riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an internal garden or a pool. Typically the riad has two or more floors that surround around Andalusian courtyard with a pool or a fountain. Outside the riads are unremarkable – scuffed walls, inconspicuous signs, the most ordinary doors and the absence of any windows. But this is the beauty of the Moroccan houses – all their beauty is hidden inside.

Riads are located in medina, i. in the old town. Most major Moroccan cities are quite developed – there are McDonald’s, famous brands stores, restaurants and giant five-star hotels but all these buidings are located in the new city. The old city (Medina) seems to be frozen in time. This is a huge territory surrounded by a wall of red sandstone with narrow noisy streets and thousands of markets. New trends do not penetrate here. It seems that medina remains exactly as it was hundreds years ago.

We chose Riad Shambala without any random factor. Booking.com provides quite good  reviews, everyday breakfast was included and we were endlessly subdued by a giant bathroom located right in the room (no jokes!). The riad is located on the very edge of medina so getting there was pretty easy. In medina there are no cars – they are too large for narrow streets. So I sincerely rejoice that we didn’t have to walk with all our bags through all the alleys searching for an inconspicuous sign of our riad. The taxi driver drove us to the wall and through several alleys we found the place. The photos of the riad also fully met our expectations. The spacious yard was even better – the natural light penetrated all the rooms. Every day we woke up listening birds singing, and the room was expecialy cozy during the rain time in Marrahesh.

Our room was located on the second floor, after the spiral staircase and a terrace under the inner courtyard. Despite the Moroccan heat the room was always nicely cold because of the clay walls. Everyday the staff served a breakfast: local tortillas or pancakes, fruits, yoghurts, tea with mint and coffee. We could have breakfast in the room but our favority spot was one of the terraces on the roof. There we had a spactacular view – bunch of roofs, a football field, palm trees and … snow-capped mountains far far away;) Every morning we drank Moroccan coffee (incredibly strong!) and admired the the mountains of Middle Atlas.

We didn’t want to leave. The good thing we were happy to leave the noise of the local markets. In addition we had a real road trip across Morocco ahead of us and now I can only say that it was an incredible adventure. So if you are going to travel around Morocco do not hesistate to stay in riads! Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

Photo of Riad Shambala: Mariia Grozenkova
Love-story shoot: Lahcen Mellal